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Wednesday, March 4, 2009 01:51 am

Shopaholic overextends itself; Fired Up is no fun

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Isla Fisher in Confessions of a Shopaholic

I’m convinced that Isla Fisher will be a major star one day. Beautiful, talented and altogether charming, the actress made an impression in Wedding Crashers, The Lookout and Definitely, Maybe. The only thing that prevented her from stealing those films was a lack of screen time. Unfortunately, her newest movie, Confessions of a Shopaholic, isn’t likely to make her a household name either. Based on the book by Sophie Kinsella, the film is a pedestrian fish-out-of-water romantic comedy that’s buoyed by the actresses’ charm and perhaps the most talented supporting cast ever assembled for such an ordinary movie.

Scarred by her mother’s thrifty ways, Rebecca Bloomwood (Fisher) is a girl from the sticks eager to take the Big Apple by storm and feels the first step in doing so is to reinvent herself as a fashion diva. Draped in Prada, Versace and Gucci, she feels as though her choice of attire defines her. Too bad she’s constantly giving herself a makeover to the tune of $16,000 in credit card debt. Having lost her job and desperate to work for a high-tone fashion mag, she applies for a job at one of the company’s sister periodicals, a monthly on finances in which she inexplicably gets a column giving financially advice.

One lie begets another, as they often do in these situations, and soon Rebecca is the toast of the town as she plummets even further into debt. The chemistry between Fisher and Hugh Dancy as her editor is genuine and their scenes add a spark to the proceedings. Equally good turns from John Litgow as the CEO of the periodical corporation, John Goodman and Joan Cusak as Rebecca’s parents and Kristin Scott Thomas as the publisher of the mag she aspires to write for lend a degree of class to this production that almost salvages the entire affair. However, in the end, the script reveals itself for what it is, an amalgam of cast off bits and pieces from other better films. Fisher’s a keeper all right, but here she’s a Vera Wang gown laboring in a clearance rack movie.


(L-R) Margo Harshman, Hayley Marie Norman, Eric Christian Olsen, Nicholas D'Agosto, Sarah Roemer and Danneel Harris in Fired Up

I have no problem with a crude, sex comedy every once in while, just as long as it’s done with a little intelligence and has the guts to break a rule or two. While I would put Animal House at the top of the list of such films, Will Gluck’s Fired Up would be a bottom dweller. It follows the misadventures of high school jocks Shawn and Nick (Nicholas D’Agosto & Eric Olsen), who lie so they can attend a summer cheerleading camp and live out every teen boy’s fantasy. It is a one-note movie that lacks the guts to be truly crude and the wit to be funny.

While some might mistake Shawn and Nick as being charming, they’re really the sort of obnoxious jerks you want to punch in the face. The allusion-filled script wears out its welcome after 15 minutes and nearly all of the female cheerleaders on hand come off as vacuous bimbos. Sarah Roemer as head cheerleader Carly does what she can to elevate herself from this mess, but her perkiness is all but drowned out by the mediocrity that surrounds her. While she has no problem being aggressive, the others involved simply coast.

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